Wednesday, 14 November 2012

No to Austerity: Yes to Jobs and Solidarity in Europe

The STUC is supporting the ETUC ‘s day of action. Today sees workers mobilising and standing up against austerity and for a new social compact in Europe. We want to see a real social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, economic solidarity between countries and social justice.

Austerity measures are dragging Europe into economic stagnation and recession. Growth has stopped and unemployment is rising inexorably. Cuts to salaries and social protection are attacking the European social model, worsening inequalities and fostering injustice.

Youth unemployment is one of the most damaging consequences of the obsession with the discredited economics of austerity. More than half of young people in Greece and Spain are without work, more than a third in Italy and Portugal, and 27% in Cyprus.

Currently in Spain more than13 million people (27% of the population) are living below the poverty line and more than 2,200,000 children are growing up in poor households. The extent of this crisis is severe and it is absolutely clear that further austerity measures cannot be pursued in this context without serious and long-term damage to society.

Yet the architects of austerity have no idea and no plan of how to rebuild economic growth – they are simply focused on keeping financial markets happy without regard to the social and economic costs.

This is why trade unions across Europe are taking action today under the banner of the ETUC. Workers are paying a steep price for the crisis and the austerity measures that have been imposed on them while it remains business as usual for corporations and financial institutions across Europe. We need to stop tax fraud and put an end to tax havens and tax competition between countries. Proposals like the financial transaction tax also have an important role to play to help repair the damage of casino capitalism.

To find out more about this action sign up to the ETUC facebook page:     

Or follow the campaign on twitter: #14Nov2012

Also sign the ITUC’s pledge against austerity: 

Helen Martin

Friday, 2 November 2012

Recent changes to immigration rules and how they affect families

The Coalition Government recently changed the rules for people wishing to bring their family into Britain. These changes affect migrant workers but they equally affect British nationals who have married people from outside the EEA and are bringing their partner into the UK for this first time, or who are returning from abroad with their family.

The changes are designed to ensure that British nationals do not need to claim benefits to support their family. It is important to realise that this does not represent a policy change and there were always provisions in place to make sure that this was the case. What this rule changes does, however, is severely limit the ability of low paid workers to have a family life as they place an earnings bar on the right to have your family with you in Britain.

The new rules mean that only someone earning more than £18,600 a year can bring their partner into the UK. This rises to £22,400 for a partner and a child, with an additional £2,400 for each further child sponsored. The new rules also mean that only the income of the British citizen (or visa holder) will be considered. This means that you could be married to a billionaire, an oil tycoon, or another low paid worker whose income would bring you over the threshold, but still deemed unable to support your family without recourse to benefits under the new rules.

This rule change is extremely concerning and seems to be an attack on the fundamental Human Right to have a family life for low paid workers.

These changes were recently debated in the House of Lords and this debate gives a useful overview of this issue.  

Helen Martin